TELEVISION / Floyd, food and foreign parts: a winning recipe

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The Independent Culture
YOU'RE probably familiar now with the recipe for a Keith Floyd cookery show. Drive somewhere nicer than England. Erect a small stall and a two-ring camping cooker in front of a camera. Spread out some fine produce. Sluice the chef liberally in a local wine, film and serve. The thing is, it's a trusty, piquant, no-fuss recipe and one you can sit down to again and again. So last night, for Floyd on Italy (BBC 2), it was off to Liguria and Piedmont with a willing heart.

Here, between the usual bits of sozzled sentimentality about the natives ('less money in their pocket, but more memories in their heads', that kind of thing), Floyd whipped up a dip that must have devastated the region's garlic harvest and a vegetarian-taunting casserole involving some of the more ambitious cuts - tongues, shins, skulls. Also a whole cockerel who will, as Floyd pointed out cheerfully while he dunked it under the carrots, 'crow no more'. (The finished item here was offered to us in what Floyd calls 'a big, fat, loving close-up' and was fantastic to behold; and I've never been able to stomach tongue, subscribing to the old view that it's ill-mannered to eat something which has been in someone else's mouth.)

'In this region of Italy,' Floyd announced, 'three things are king: basil, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and fish. That's five things - it doesn't matter.' Anything you say, Keith. Floyd directed the cameraman as he went, sounding like a fussy nanny: 'Denis - on to the pot please.' There was one slightly loose moment: patiently explaining 'pesto' to the people who watch Floyd programmes is probably as redundant as troubling to tell the audience for the snooker that the black ball goes down last. But at least there was good news for anyone under the mistaken impression that olive oil is bad for the health. Floyd told us, 'The people of Italy and Spain don't have as many heart attacks as I'm about to have.'

I should confess, I viewed this programme on a tape in the queasy early morning, directly after a cup of tea and an apple Pop Tart and not expecting to salivate again for at least five hours - and not even then over the sight of a

red mullet's head simmering in oil. But it happened.

Billy Connolly, too, hit the road last night, on his World Tour of Scotland (BBC 1), a documentary-cum-travelogue with Scottish-flavoured reflections from the comedian himself. Some critics allege that Connolly hasn't been so funny since he shaved his beard off, which opens up an interesting hair-loss / humour reduction equation - one further borne out in the case of Ben Elton, but which runs into serious difficulty when you come to consider Brian Glover. In any case, Connolly was as amiable as ever, though there are probably not enough scenes involving rich food to really make the series swing.

In Chandler and Co (BBC 1), two women set up as private detectives specialising in adultery cases, neatly indulging their (and our) desire to listen to other people's phone conversations and peep through their curtains. Barbara Flynn, playing Dee, has a face which could go either way between cosy sitcom or nerve-ridden drama and, likewise, the programme itself can't quite decide whether to be Prime Suspect IV or That's My Wife You're Listening To] There were some anguished reflections on the behaviour of men; but there were also, on the soundtrack, those pizzicato strings you hear when people creep up on each other in Carry On films. Still, a few scenes involving rich food and this could still turn out all right.

Thomas Sutcliffe is away